It may seem natural for top Ultimate Fighting Championship light heavyweight contender Glover Teixeira to look at Jon Jones’ last title defense against Alexander Gustafsson and see optimism in the sense that Jones looked somewhat beatable for the first time in his dominant run as champion.
Teixeira, however, said he was impressed by how Jones was able to overcome adversity.
“People ask what I can learn from that fight, but me and Gustafsson are different fighters with different styles. I do different things and Jon will do different things,” said Teixeira, who will challenge Jones for the belt in the main event of UFC 172 in Baltimore on Saturday. “One thing I learned, though, is that Jon is a true champion and can go into deep waters and win. It just gives me more motivation to train hard and find a way to beat him.”
Teixeira has done plenty of winning. The 34-year-old Brazilian has won 20 straight fights, including five in a row since signing with the UFC.
Still, he will enter as more than a 4-to-1 underdog against the champion. Jones has swept through everyone in the division, but is coming off a tightly contested decision victory over Gustafsson in September.
Teixeira cited a different fight for what he is looking to accomplish on Saturday.
“Jones is no joke. Beating him would be like (Chris) Weidman beating Anderson Silva,” Teixeira said on a conference call Monday. “For me, this is my dream. Every day I wake up in the morning and think, ‘Man, I get to fight for the UFC belt.’
“I believe in my skills. I’ve been doing this for a long time and I’m just excited to realize my dream.”
The pay-per-view event also features a light heavyweight bout between Phil Davis and Anthony Johnson.
■ CARANO RETURN STILL POSSIBLE — The announcement that UFC women’s bantamweight champion Ronda Rousey will fight Alexis Davis in July made it appear the rumored return of Gina Carano to the cage was off the table.
Not so, said UFC president Dana White.
After meeting with Carano, White believes the former Strikeforce star-turned-Hollywood actress still wants to fight despite being out of action since 2009.
He was also very impressed.
“When I met with her, I loved what she had to say. I love it. I hope we get a deal done with her. If we get this done, it’s awesome,” White said. “It is fascinating talking to her. I never use this word, but she’s honestly one of the most charming human beings I have ever met in my life.”
White said he would have no problem giving Carano an immediate title shot if that’s what she wanted.
“I do think she deserves it. She’s legit. Everybody knows she’s legit,” White said. “Would I give her a fight with Ronda? Yeah, I would. Ronda wants it really bad. Ronda loves Gina Carano and has tons of respect for her.”
■ WHITE ON NEW NAC CHIEF — While many MMA fans expressed dismay on the internet when the Nevada Athletic Commission went with boxing judge Robert Bennett as its new executive director instead of someone with an MMA background, White is optimistic about the hire.
White said he will meet Bennett sometime this week. He said he has confidence that Bennett will do what he needs to do to familiarize himself with MMA as it will be a major part of his job with the NAC.
“He doesn’t have to know, he’ll learn it. He’ll get in there in do his homework,” White said. “I’m excited for change.”
■ FRANKLIN’S NEW GIG — Former UFC middleweight champion Rich Franklin is expected to accept an offer to become a vice president for Singapore-based ONE Fighting Championship.
He said on Facebook he would meet with the organization in the coming weeks to work out the details.
White said Franklin came to him to discuss the possibility of working for the organization.
“We have a really good relationship with Rich,” White said. “He got offered a good opportunity to go work with those guys. I’m happy for him.”
The announcement likely marks an end to Franklin’s fighting career. He is 29-7 and last fought in November 2012 when he was knocked out by Cung Le.
White, however, said Franklin remains under contract and still could theoretically fight in the UFC if he so desired.
Contact reporter Adam Hill at firstname.lastname@example.org or 702-224-5509. Follow him on Twitter: @adamhilllvrj.